How Do I Open Door to my Wife's Heart to Avoid Divorce?


I’d appreciate ideas on finding ways for me to renew my life in a way that opens my wife’s heart to go to marriage counseling. She just filed for divorce this week. She says it’s been a matter of me not validating her. We’ve both been through a lot of stress, too. I just successfully underwent surgery for prostate cancer. She was heavily medicated (probably overmedicated) for a large pat of last year when trying counseling for the first time to improve sleepfulness and some depression with which she has had a life-long battle. There’s been problems with my job, too. Unfortunately, my wife feels she cannot improve our relationship because some of the nice things she does get ingnored by me. We/ve been married 18 years and have no kids. I’m Catholic and she is Lutheran. Her counselor, pastor and mother favor divorce as a redemptive process. I am deeply distressed. We almost made it to a Retrouville marriage workshop weekend session, but she got sick at the last moment. Then, she decided she would not like to try at any more marriage counseling things even though we have never done marriage counseling. We’ve been separated for a month. I live in the house. She works in the house because her Ortho lab is located in it, but she lives in an apartment at an undisclosed place. She has a male friend who she talks to a lot, but she says this is not an affair (and I believe that it is not a physical relationship). She goes to church regularly and does a tremendous amount of volunteer work at her church.




If it hasn’t been physical up to now, it most likely is or will be soon. The reason she doesn’t want to try is because she found someone else. Cheaters always tell their spouse that the paramour is just a friend. They usually throw in that you are insecure or crazy for thinking they are having an affair. (Has she said that?)

I am sorry, but this is probably not fixable. No matter how hard you try, there have to be two people trying in a marriage. I will pray for you…:o


Do you love her?

Why do you want to keep the marriage going?

Genuine questions, not judgements :slight_smile: It’s a bit hard to advise without more information on how you feel, or what your motivations to keep the marriage alive are.


See if you can court her again. Ask her out to dinner. Maybe a walk.Send her flowers.Remind her that you’re still the man she fell in love with. Do you remember how you courted her 18 years ago? Maybe she misses how it used to be between you.The little love notes the holding hands. Or just the long talks on the phone. Your attention is what she probably needs.

I always tell my husband that we women are alot like flowers.

theres the pulling weeds------->talking




Ask our Mother Mary to pray for you to her Son.


Take time off, both of you go to some lovely place, and there find what made you attract to one another. Meaning, find out why her and you fell in love with each other, what made you be attracted to each other, etc. Reaffirm each other. I think she said it best herself–what she does for you are not appreciated. Already there she is telling you something. Appreciate her. Appreciate what attracted you to her. Often, what made us be attracted to our spouse are the same ones we see as faults. For instance, we liked it that she is mindful and thoughtful, but those same traits later on become negative and we see them as nagging. In other words, the positive traits that we saw before have become negative for us, yet they’re the same traits that we used to like. We think the person has changed. Actually, your spouse hasn’t changed, but your view of her has changed. Perhaps that’s brought about by factors such as problems in your job, financial issues, etc. We often take out on our spouses these things that bother us, because they’re the most convenient targets of our anxiety. So, reaffirm each other and rediscover why you love one another. Most of all, always focus on each other’s positive aspects. If you focus on each other’s faults, then it’s guaranteed you will divorce since you don’t see any redeeming qualities that will make you stay. But focus on the things you shared, those things that made both of you happy, each person’s positive traits, and you won’t have any reason to separate. Why? Because you will realize that it would be hard to find someone who has those same traits your spouse has. So reaffirm those positive things.


I appreciate you all responding to my post. We all face problems, and I appreciate you taking time away from your own lives to help with mine. My wife and I are both very religious an trying to find our purpose in God–I really love this about her. She easily donates time and money. Going toward divorce is upsetting both of us. Her family believes that the light is on the other side of divorce. I believe that the Light of God is in our Holy Marriage. As for the details, one thing I’ll do is clean the house partly because my wife grew up in a house that was organized and that’s not my strong point. We both like to hike and do outdoor activities. I’ll try to see if we can meet at the zoo or some public place where she will not feel trapped, but where we can enjoy nature and perhaps talk a little about our feelings. She likes to talk about our feelings, but only if I truly listen to her. She has a hard time initiating a conversation on her thoughts and feelings because she grew up in a household where it was not acceptable to argue (her parents divorced when she moved out of the house and her first Dad died of cancer when she was a young girl). Also, she assumes a lot that her feelings will start arguments. My family argues and jokes sarcastically a lot. If I start in on an issue, it’s easy for me to take on my family’s debating stance. This hurts her on two fronts. One, she never has an opportunity to express her feelings (because its hard for her to get started down that path) and two, I am breaking a pattern of no arguments which she identifies as normal. At the beginning of our separation, we were using Marriage Encounter “love letter” techniques to discuss our feelings. This worked. We had one argument about her not wanting to work on the marriage and about money. After this, she headed for the divorce lawyer. She’s out of town until next Thursday. So, I have some time this week to figure out how to set up a low pressure date. I am also praying using the Rosary of my Mom who passed away a long while ago (I just recently found the Rosary). If there are any ideas on good themes or ways of praying the Rosary, please let me know.




When my husband initiated the separation and divorce, and I was willing to do anything to get him home, our priest said something that hurt and confused me, “he’s already gone.”

He was right.

It sounds as though your wife has a “serious” relationship with this man. She probably confided your problems to him, and one thing is leading to another. That’s how it works.

Try letting her go. That could shock her into having second thoughts. Dr. Dobson has a book about this, but I can’t remember the name of it.

I’m sorry that this is happening to you. I know how gut wrenching it is.


These are Catholic resources for you.

I’d suggest two books.

Matthew Kelly “The Seven Levels of Intimacy”

Fr. Thomas Dubay “Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer”


Make an appointment to see her pastor. You alone, without the wife. Take her Ortho lab with you and leave it with the pastor for her to pick up the next time she goes to church. You need to keep her out of your house until everything is finalized.



Agree. Change the locks. And get your own attorney quick. Do not do this alone. She left you, protect yourself. If she has filed, she means business, unless she plays the drama queen. Stop all joint accounts, close joint credit cards, have all her mail returned to sender.

Protect yourself. Protect yourself. Protect yourself.


I may be wrong, but most of these posts seem to be written by men. It is true that you need to take legal action to protect yourself. Talk to a lawyer.
I still love and pray for my husband despite the many years we have been apart. I begin my rosary with a variation of the words from the Marian Movement of Priests. I consecrate my daughter, her husband, her father, and each of my grandchildren to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I use each of their names.
One poster mentioned courting your wife. I remember a plaque that said, “Treat your wife like a thorobred or you may find she has become a nag.” Women are naturally responsive and reflect the treatment that they receive. If she sees in your eyes and your actions that you see her as beautiful and valued, she will see herself the same way.
It is good that she spends time at church and in prayer. Do talk with her pastor. He may have some insight. Seek counselling for yourself, even if she rejects and refuses you. Try to set up another Retrouville. Give her space to make her own decisions.


I appreciate the variety of responses. There are a lot of good points, even if some seem contradictory. For instance, I have started to realize that I should take care of myself and be careful about money. I have other advice along with this which I will synthesize into action. I have no idea what the odds are of getting this relationship back on track. A counselor gave me some helpful coaching today. I should focus on how my wife responds now (not how I think she should or how she used to). She will either pull closer, be neutral or be pushed away by things I do. I should stop doing things that push her away (like asking her to go to a marriage counselor). I should not waste time doing neutral things. Rather, I should use this time to work on my own health and to spend time with friends. I should do the things that pull her closer. I should also do things that will surprise her pleasantly. This means that the things I do now are not enough. I should also realize that I may disagree with 80% of what she says to me, but that I need to find the 20% that I do agree with and show that I agree. I need to become the kind of person with whom she wants to be married. She is a good, decent person. These things are all about making myself a better person, so this is good no matter what the outcome. I am a very shy person which distresses my wife because she worries about me when she wants to do something with her friends. Today, I cleaned and completely rearranged the garage because my wife had wanted that done a very long time ago. I also called two friends and asked them to come over sometime this week to help me figure out ways to straighten out other parts of the house. They agreed to my surprise. Then I called a blind person who I came across recently offering to ride a tandem bike with him. He is very happy about it. Also, to my surprise, this person was very caring about my problem with my wife when this eventually came up in the conversation. He wants to help me–which surprised me again. It’s interesting that there are some doors to open that I never imagined existed. You guys on this site are kind for caring about this situation. Thanks.




I am glad that you found a counsellor.
You will be given contradictory advice. Your emotions will also be contradictory.
I did leave off the importance of taking care of yourself.
The second of the greatest commands is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Just as you love your wife, it is important to love yourself.
There is only one person that you can change.


you sound like one of the really good guys. . I am sorry about the pain you aregoing through.

I’d say: dont give up… she is your wife and you love her and need her… You gotta pursue her… think of how Jesus pursues His Bride and take that as a role model… Dont listen to voices that cheaply tell you to give up on your wife or that she probably has some affair… they dont know that! And if she is tempted she needs even more help.
You told us you are shy and … well I was thinking that maybe you go around thinking she knows what is on your mind most of the time when in fact she does not…
Could silence be taken for indifference?
A woman needs to be romanced and to know that she is wanted. She needs communication.
Dont give up. Send her a letter telling her that she is the only love of your life, that you can’t be without her… that you really want to try to make things work and tell her how you feel…
Communication is the key to many many problems…
I hope you take action sooner than later… every day that goes might make the gap bigger between you …

God bless you and and give you peace and strength.


Love and Respect


Well said. Pray about the wording of the letter. God will give you the words. You might want to start with a simple card.


There are no easy answers to what to do now or next. I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but the posts that indicate that your wife may be moving on in a different direction - the male “friend”, are pretty much right on point.

That does not mean giving up; but it does mean that you are on the sidelines watching the freight train move on down the tracks. Can the two of you get together, renew your marriage? Yes, that is possible. Probably not likely.

I applaud your attempt to change, to do some of the things you had not, in the past. Be aware that you may find yourself on the wrong end of the question of why you could not have done that before. You cannot “win” her back; either she will perceive a reason to continue on this relationship, or she won’t. If she does not see marriage as a sacramental relationship and a permanent one, there will be little that will cause her to want to come back.

Stay in prayer, and continue to use your counselor as long as you are learning and growing. The old saw about leading a horse to water but not being able to make them drink is all too true. A marriage takes two parties; one cannot carry the relationship by themself. And that is what can make a situation such as yours so hard; you may want with every fiber of your being to stay married; if she doesn’t, you probably won’t. Unless she decides that marriage to you is worth working on, it will simply be a matter of time. Having her “friend” doesn’t help anything but give her hope for a “new beginning”.

In many ways you are a member of the walking wounded. You want her back desparately; she doesn’t particularly want to come back. You have a Hobson’s choice; do not give her enough space, and she will resent you and continue to move away; give her enough space, and she will have the room to move away. You are not likely to change her mind. She has to do that herself; and there is a lot working right now against that.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Just as it was 15 years ago, and will be two years from now. At this point, you are alone. Wishing and hoping will not change that. Prayer does work, but others have to respond to how God leads them too, and they have that nasty little gift that God gave us all - free will. Do not give up on prayer, even if she does not respond. Never give up on that.


I just wanted to say my prayers are with you and your wife. It deeply saddens me. I can’t imagine anyone using the word “redemptive” to describe divorce. How diabolically opposed to Christ’s redemption! I will put you and your wife on my prayer chain. God bless you and DO NOT GIVE UP! Lisa


Amen is all I can say. And you are not alone, Mike; we have the same problem more or less. My wife left a year ago, and has not returned since. News has it that she’s in some place with another guy, but of course she denies it when we do talk. Still, I do not give up and hope that she will realize her mistake and return. I always hope, since I believe God will somehow see us through and get us back together. That is why I am still hopeful, even though the wait is painful and what is happening is painful. Sometimes I also think of giving up–of moving on, so to speak, and find another. But I realize there’s no “another”; there are qualities that she has that no one else has. No one can be like her. Even if I do fall for another, it will not be like her and she would have traits different from her. In short, it will be totally different. So I continue to hope, and have faith that God will make things work out in the end.


God is close to the brokenhearted.
The passage that I find helpful, as a woman, comes from the OT.
"Like a maiden married in youth and then cast out, the Lord your God, your creator shall become your husband."
Many make the mistake of moving from one human relationship to another. Instead focus on intimacy with Christ. Let Him take the lead.

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